2 Aug 2018

Passengers travelling between the airport and the city can enjoy a short story or poem along with their ride under a new Red Bus trial.

A new Red Bus trial is offering a book or poem to read on the bus.

A new Red Bus trial is offering a book or poem to read on the bus.

The free Stories on the Go initiative allows people to read a story or poem on their phone by scanning one of 20 different QR codes available on the bus. Each QR code contains a different piece of writing by a New Zealand author or poet and new codes will be added over time.

The initiative, which has started on the central city to Christchurch Airport bus route, is the brainchild of Magdalena Lorenzo. It was supported by Christchurch City Council's Transport Innovation Fund.

Ms Lorenzo set up Commuting Book in 2016 to promote reading by making books available in public spaces. She began by dropping donated books at bus stops.

Stories on the Go will initially only be available on the airport bus service, coinciding with a free Wi-Fi trial by Environment Canterbury on the same route, but may be extended to other routes. The airport service carries more than 200,000 passengers annually.

All the works are by New Zealand authors, including Julie Hill, Frankie McMillan, Charlotte Grimshaw, Pip Adam, Rachael King, Heather McQuillan, James Norcliffe and Kirsten McDougall.

Some of the authors are taking part in the WORD Christchurch Festival this year, while others are local writers or students from The School for Young Writers. The works will cater for both adults and younger readers. One work is in Te Reo Maori but can also be read in English.

Red Bus Chief Executive Paul McNoe says the trial is part of the company's ongoing aim to enhance passenger services.

“Christchurch people are hungry for enhancements to the way the city functions,” he says.

“Our support for Stories on the Go is part of our commitment to innovation and new technology.

“We need to ensure our public transport service is future-proof and fit for purpose with a modern, regenerating city.”

The innovative move follows an announcement by Red Bus in June that it is buying three electric buses, which will be delivered by next March. These will be used on the same direct service route between the CBD and Christchurch International Airport.